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Scripture reading – Genesis 20-21

Genesis 20 – Post-Sodom Excursion from the Promised Land

After witnessing the devastating judgment of God upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), Abraham and Sarah made their journey south “and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar” (20:1). We are not told why Abraham departed from the land; however, I speculate it was to put a distance between himself and the ruins of Sodom and to distance himself from the unrighteous acts of his nephew Lot. Whatever his reason, Abraham made a fateful decision to journey from the land God had promised and traveled to Gerar, the land ruled by the heathen king Abimelech (20:1-2).

Upon arriving in Gerar, Abraham fell back into the faithless pattern he followed when he went to Egypt (Genesis 12:11-16). He urged Sarah to tell others she was his sister and not his wife (20:2). Although she was 90, the LORD had preserved her beauty, and Abraham was concerned he might be killed and she taken (20:2). Once again, Abraham’s deceit put his wife at risk, and God’s promise she would bear him a son.

Providentially, God intervened and warned Abimelech in a dream that he was a dead man should he violate Sarah, for she was Abraham’s wife (20:3-8).  Rising early the next morning, Abimelech wasted no time putting his household in order and confronted Abraham, who excused his dishonesty by explaining that Sarah was indeed his half-sister (20:9-13).

Abimelech then extended grace to Abraham and restored Sarah to him. The king also proposed an invitation to Abraham and Sarah and allowed them to live where they pleased in the land (20:15). Furthermore, Abimelech paid Abraham a “thousand pieces of silver” as restitution and an assurance that Sarah had not been dishonored (20:16).

Abimelech’s kindness rebuked Abraham and Sarah, for he demonstrated greater integrity than they. In humility, “Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children” (20:17).

Genesis 21 – Promise fulfilled: Isaac is born!

Fulfilling God’s covenant promise, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee” (Genesis 12:2), we read the news of the miraculous conception and birth of Isaac, the son of Abraham born to Sarah (21:1-3).

Genesis 21:1–31And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, [when she was 90 years old, and he 100 years old] at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

Abraham had waited twenty-five years for God’s promise of a son to be fulfilled (Genesis 12:4). The thought of a 90-year-old woman conceiving a son of the seed of a 100-year-old man seemed impossible; however, nothing is impossible with the LORD and “at the set time of which God had spoken,” Isaac was born (21:5).

The happiness of Isaac’s birth, his circumcision and identity as Abraham’s heir, and the feast that celebrated his being weaned from his mother’s milk turned to sorrow (21:6-9). Ishmael, Abraham’s son born to the Egyptian Hagar, was observed mocking Isaac (21:9), and Sarah demanded, “Cast out this bondwoman [slave] and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac” (21:10).

Abraham, understanding the weight of his transgression was borne by his family, took comfort when the LORD said unto him, “Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 13And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed” (21:12-13).

Heartbroken but trusting God, Abraham arose early the next day and sent Hagar and his son into the wilderness with “bread, and a bottle of water” (21:14) and God’s promise that Ishmael would be the father of a nation. There in the wilderness, when all seemed lost, God heard the cry of Hagar and her son, and “the angel of God” spoke to her, reminding her of His promise, “I will make him a great nation” (21:18).

Closing thought God hears His people’s cries and answers their prayers.

Rather than trust God, Abraham encouraged Sarah not to disclose that she was his wife. In doing so, he risked God’s promise of a son and heir. In other words, he followed his culture and resorted to human reasoning rather than trusting and obeying God.

Application – Are there areas in your life where you fail to trust God? Are you attempting to employ sinful means rather than believing and trusting the Word of God? Is there an area of your life you need to surrender and commit to the LORD?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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